A great year of achievements for our hard working volunteers
As we come to the end of the year I want to offer my thanks to our enthusiastic and brilliant volunteers who work tirelessly in a wide variety of roles.
Today marks International Volunteer Day and this is a good opportunity to celebrate some of the incredible work that dedicated and hard working individuals have carried out across the county throughout 2019.
This year my office worked with Dorset Police and the Bourne Academy to create the county’s first ever police cadet unit.
This has long been a major priority of mine, as the successes these groups have had in other parts of the UK have been extraordinary.
Cadet Units help young people – often from deprived backgrounds – to thrive, play a positive role in their communities and provide valuable opportunities to learn and to be heard.
We were inundated with so many requests from young people who wanted to benefit from this opportunity that we had to set up a second group, with both now operating from the Bourne Academy and helping turn young lives around.
I need to thank a lot of people for making this happen – not least Dorset Police themselves who, after the scheme was set up by my office, have now taken responsible for running it themselves.
But most of all, I need to praise the dedicated volunteers who give up their free time every week to organise sessions. They are the people without whom these units simply would not exit.
These volunteers have come from a wide range of backgrounds – some of them are involved in the policing world, either as officers, staff or special constables, but others are teachers, engineers or are retired after working in long careers. The one thing they have in common is they are all keen to give something back and help inspire young people to thrive.
This is just one example of how volunteers who work either for my office or the Force are making a difference.
Our Independent Custody Visitors (ICV) go out to visit people held in police custody to ensure they are detained in a dignified and safe manner. Our scheme won gold in the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) Quality Assurance Awards this year during an event at the House of Lords – testament to the hard work of staff and volunteers.
The work of ICV volunteers nationally has made a difference. Earlier this year, the Home Office changed the law to ensure police have to give all female detainees free sanitary products. This followed an intervention from ICVA after volunteers across the country had found women were being left to ‘bleed out’ in cells.
Another group of volunteers are scrutiny panel members, who assist us in holding Dorset Police to account by reviewing aspects of their work and influencing positive change.
Our office has four separate panels, each of which looks in depth at a different aspect of policing – from how the Force uses stop and search powers to how it interacts with the public through functions such as the 101 non-emergency phone line.
Finally, our community volunteers come along with us to events across Dorset and enable people to share their views on policing in Dorset.
This is incredibly important, as my role depends on understanding the opinions of the county's residents.
Volunteers come from all parts of our community, and the work they do has a genuine impact on making Dorset a better place. If you’re interested in finding out more, there are plenty more examples of how you can volunteer to help my office or Dorset Police.